Thursday, January 29, 2015

Corporate Survival Guide for Dummies

This write-up was written for and can be found here.

The first job for freshers is tricky and at the same time a very important milestone. It marks your ingress into the big bad world of manners and etiquette’s. The way you conduct yourself, the choices you make at the initial stages will affect your future tenure in the corporate world. Not everyone is lucky to get guidance on the perfect corporate behavior but fret not Seeups is here to help you out. Read on to transform yourself into corporate savvy.

1. Be Professional
You have to be prepared for this. This is no college so don’t come here expecting to make friends and have a blast. Just out of college with no professional exposure the first few weeks were very strange for me. Addressing people double your age with their first names, working 9 hours continuously at a stretch, attending trainings and having a polite smile plastered across your face. It was not an easy transformation for the erstwhile class-bunking me. But I survived although not before gaining quite a reputation for falling asleep in trainings.
Mostly all corporate offices have an induction for freshers where they tell you all the mandatory attributes. But I suggest before all that, just Google some professional etiquette s so that you are atleast mentally prepared and know what to expect.

2. Learn, Learn & learn more
Once you are assigned to work on a project. Just treat your office like an unlimited buffet, where all you have to do it just eat and eat. Here the food is knowledge and you have grasp as much as you can. Whatever technologies and processes are being used should be understood and implemented by you. In corporate world knowledge is power. Even the small talk you have with random people is seldom about weather & movies. It’s about the latest strategies of Vishal Sikka and whether JP Morgan is really going bankrupt. So starting to read the newspaper is also a good decision.

3. Be a Smart Worker

Hard worker and Smart worker. Little difference in theory but huge difference in impact. Importance of what you do is less than that of how you present it. Learn to present your work in an effective way. Taking cue from the Pareto principle we can infer that 80% planning and
20 % implementation is the success mantra. Plan your work, do a thorough breakup and assignation of tasks, automate as much as you can and most importantly review your work in-depth before presenting it. Do proof reading, check for attachments, don’t miss the subject lines and remember spell check does not always work correctly. Avoid these petty mistakes at cost, managers are programed to base their judgement on the much overrated first impression.
4. Know when to say NO
It’s a general practice in corporates to dump all work on freshers. So it is very important to know when to say NO. While learning is critical at initial stages of your career, you should judge smartly when you feel people are taking you for a ride. Saying No is important because if you don’t even when you are old enough in the company, people will always remember you as the guy who does all the work. And by then it will be too late to say NO.

5. Beware of pesky co-workers
Team members form an integral part of your journey in corporate world. You are going to meet all kinds of people here. The good, the bad and the ones that fall somewhere in between. Don’t come here expecting to become best friends with people. At the same time, be cordial and polite with all. Have fun with your team on outings and picnic, bond over food at lunch, discuss sports and movies at coffee but that’s where it ends. Don’t get on being too personal (especially in the start) once you have a grown familiarity and develop a good understanding you can go ahead and be friends. Stay away from people who gossip – because today they are talking about others with you, tomorrow they will be talking with other about you. Also smartly tackle people who have a knack for taking credit for everything. And the ones who sweet talk to get all their work done from you.

6. Right & Wrong
Once you join a company, the first thing you should do is read all the policy documents available in repositories. Be clear about medical benefits, release/transfer policies, increments, promotion criteria etc. Have a one on one session with your HR to understand the functioning of your organization. Be aware of your rights and don’t let anyone take you for granted. Whenever required fight for your rights. If you feel you are eligible for promotion just discuss it with your manager. Don’t wait for him to initiate any discussion. Here you are not going to get served on a silver platter. It’s the survival of the fittest and the fastest.

7. Effective time management
Sometimes we need to stretch beyond our working hours to meet deadlines. While this is perfectly okay once in a while, make sure not to make a habit out of it. Life is not just about your job. Make sure to prioritize stuff and make equal time of yourself, family and friends. Take leaves, go for a vacation. Do a reunion with your buddies, take that road trip you have been planning forever. We all know, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

8. Health is wealth
Corporate life can take a toll on your health. Irregular food habits, too much coffee, sitting posture can lead to myriad of problems ranging from gastritis to spondylitis. Not to mention that quintessential tummy that IT world gives you within 2 years. An early precaution will help. Take breaks in between and do some workstation stretches. Look away from your screen to give your eyes a break. As far as possible eat healthy, carry fruits and dry fruits with you which you can have in case you have no time for lunch. Don’t take your health for granted.

9. Use social media wisely

Social media is addictive. Period. We love to tag and check-in all the awesome places we visit. But social media backfires when you call in sick for work with your party night pictures plastered all across Facebook. Be cautious of information you share on social media. Always remember “Excess of everything is bad.”

10. Personal Grooming
You may have spent your entire college life strutting around in distressed denims. But once you enter the business world, the entire wardrobe would need a major intervention. Invest in some good business formals and casuals. Clean and ironed shirts & trousers. Nicely polished shoes preferably matching your belt. Clean and dark coloured socks, white socks are a big NO in corporate offices. Please use a lightly scented deodorant or perfume. No one expects you to look red carpet ready but a clean, well groomed look goes a long way.


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